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Published Dec 21, 2021

The U.S. economy is slowing as fewer immigrant workers come to fill jobs

ROSE: Pretty much everyone agrees that fewer immigrants entered the U.S. labor force last year, but not everyone thinks it's a problem.

ROY BECK: My point is, that's good. Labor tightness is good.

ROSE: Roy Beck is the head of NumbersUSA, a nonprofit in Washington that pushes for lower levels of immigration. And he's the author of a new book called Back Of The Hiring Line."

BECK: It is proven that you tighten the labor market and wages go up. It always happens. The fact that we had one year of less immigration contributed to that, and that's good. It's one of the most positive things that could happen for tackling the economic inequality.

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Back Cover Text


While most Americans justifiably celebrate Ellis Island ancestors, here are the stories of what the long period of mass immigration after the Civil War meant to freed slaves, their children and grandchildren in the hiring lines of America: decades of delays in gaining industrial job experience, skills and career connections, and constant setbacks in accumulating and transferring wealth.

Average Black household wealth in the 21st century is only a fraction of the wealth of other racial ethnic groups, including recent immigrants. There are many reasons. This book is about one of them: periodic sustained immigration surges over the last two centuries.

This is a little-told story of the struggles of freed slaves and their descendants to climb job ladders in the eras of Frederick Douglass, W.E.B DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Barbara Jordan, and other African American Leaders who advocated tight-labor migration policies. It is a great history of bitter disappointment and, occasionally, of great hope.

Linda Beck